Polites mystic
Long Dash

Family Description:

The caterpillar is greenish to dark brown, sometimes mottled with white and marked lengthwise along the back with a dark line. The body is covered with short black hair.
Adult: This skipper has a wingspan of 1 to 1 inches. The male is brownish orange on the upperside, marked with brown along the edges. The forewing has a black stigma (patch of scent scales used in attracting females) that runs diagonally across the wing from the body towards the wing tip. The female is brown to brownish orange on the upperside, with patches or bands of golden yellow, and possibly a patch of orange along the leading edge of the forewing. The female has no stigma, but may have a patch of black on the forewing near the body. Underneath, both sexes are golden orange; the underside of the hindwing is marked with a curved band of yellow, or it may be entirely yellow.

This species ranges across southern Canada from Alberta to Nova Scotia, and across the northern U.S. from eastern Washington and northeastern Oregon to the east coast, extending south as far as northern Colorado. In Idaho, it can be found from the panhandle to the central part of the state.

It occurs in moist areas such as marshes, meadows, and along streams.

Caterpillars feed on the leaves of various grasses, including bluegrass (Poa spp.).

Adult: Butterflies drink flower nectar.

There is usually one generation of caterpillars each summer, but there may be two in certain locations. Caterpillars construct nests of leaves tied with silk. Caterpillars overwinter in a physiological state called diapause. Adults generally fly from late May to early August. The butterflies when at rest are found with their forewings partially open and their hindwings fully open.

Males perch to wait for receptive females. Females lay eggs singly on or near host grasses.

Idaho Status: Unprotected nongame species.
Global Rank: G5
populations are widespread, abundant, and secure.

Ferris, C. D. and F. M. Brown. (eds.) 1981. Butterflies of the Rocky Mountain States. Univ. of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma, USA, 442 pp.

Opler, P. A., H. Pavulaan, and R. E. Stanford. 1995. Butterflies of North America. Jamestown, North Dakota, USA: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Home Page. http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/distr/lepid/bflyusa/bflyusa.htm (Version 05Nov98).

Opler, P. A. and A. B.Wright. 1999. A Field Guide to the Western Butterflies.   Second Edition.  Peterson Field Guide Series. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, New York, USA, 540 pp.

Pyle, R. M. 1981. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York, New York, USA, 924 pp.

Scott, J. A. 1986. The Butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, USA, 583 pp.

Stanford, R. E. and P. A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of Western U.S.A. Butterflies (Including Adjacent Parts of Canada and Mexico). Published by authors, Denver, Colorado, USA, 275 pp.